Saturday, April 13, 2019

Betsy DeVos and her No Good, Very Bad Record on Public Education: Here's What She's Done

This is a must-read piece by President Lily Eskelsen of the National Education Association. U.S. Department of Betsy DeVos is part of the neoliberal agenda to destroy public education and in its stead, have a market-based, privatized system, where your education amounts to the best education you can buy while the for-profit, Educate Management Organizations (EMOs) reap massive profits on the taxpayer's dime.

Yes, your/our tax dollars at work to destroy public education.  Sadly, this is the "McDonaldization" or "WalMartization of public education," the big-box, predatory, corporate enterprise that represents an about-face both from public education, and the notion of public schools' role in the preservation of a democracy.  I refer here to the promise of public education not always as it is, but certainly as it should be and the promise that it holds for a more equitable, values-based, education.

If you want to learn about the roots of neoliberal thinking, a good place to start is with Nancy MacLean's book, DEMOCRACY IN CHAINS.  This privatization agenda that works in tandem with gentrification and the displacement of poor people is at best indifferent, and at worst, hostile to community, as a whole.

If this were otherwise, the charter school leaders and community would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us in the legislature and community advocating for children's rights to bilingual education, immigrant children's rights, Ethnic Studies, equitable school funding, growing our own educators, and so on.  They are never within view on such matters at the legislature. Not a single champion to find among them.  They must be all busy administering....

For the gentrifiers of our cities and the gentrifiers of our schools, "community" often amounts to an inconvenience.  How patronizing and how unfortunate a stance.  But then, it makes sense when you consider that the kids and their parents become "clients."  

How disempowering.  No governance to speak of in this scenario.  No local control.  No elected school board.  Only a market.  That's why large class sizes actually make sense because it's profitable for the EMOs.

Not that individual charter schools aren't good, doing the great work.  However, when one is in policy, as I myself am, one knows the perils of passing laws that are premised on exceptions rather than the rule. Just because one hypothetical revolutionary, progressive, civil rights charter school in Houston, Texas, is doing wonders with its children, this doesn't justify a blunt policy doctrine where the EMOs rake in the public's hard-earned money while public education is shamed, blamed, and deprived of resources in order to turn off folks to the public schools.

As a rule—at least in Texas—you're child is mostly not better off in a charter school.  See the evidence for yourself in this important analysis conducted by the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) titled, "Charter School Expansion in Texas is "Troubling."  Think twice before you put your child in a charter school.  And once your child is in, if you still opt for this, stay very much on top as an involved parent so that you can see not only how well your child is doing, but are they hiring certified teachers?  Are they paying them well and do they get benefits?  

We need to be sure and get out to vote, my friends—and also to educate ourselves on the neoliberal agenda of which charter schools are a core part.  Together with this, do not support charter-friendly candidates—who you can sometimes identify as the ones having slick, glossy mail-outs and war chests chock full of cash just to win a local race that shouldn't cost millions of dollars to win in the first place.  

Dr. MacLean's book is a very good place to start getting educated on the neoliberal agenda. DeVos' budget is another good place to learn about it.  Consider, for example, and earlier posted on the matter.  Here's another really good, if profoundly-concerning, piece on the school privatization agenda that you can also read.

Do click on the Betsy DeVos' timeline constructed by the NEA to see how it's gone.
This charterization and privatization agenda is very harmful to public education.  But then how can it be when it primarily benefits the top 1 percent.  

Get woke, folks!  And get involved not just in your child's education, but education policy, in general.

-Angela Valenzuela

#GetWoke #StayWoke


Betsy DeVos had a bad week. First, she defended her budget that calls for the elimination of federal funding for the Special Olympics.

As if that wasn't bad enough, she also had the audacity to claim that—and this is a direct quote—“Students may be better served by being in larger classes.”

Anyone who has ever been in a classroom knows this is cluelessly wrong.

But, this was not the first or only time Betsy DeVos tried to roll back funding for students who need it most.

In fact, she has spent her entire time as education secretary trying to eliminate funding and protections for public school students.

We should know. We put together a timeline of Betsy DeVos’ tenure as education secretary. Check it out here.

Line by line, month by month, you can see in real-time how she’s promoted the privatization of public schools through vouchers, called for deep cuts to federal funding, rolled back protections for vulnerable children, and shilled for the for-profit college industry that has defrauded countless students.

We will continue to hold Betsy DeVos accountable for her actions, and come November 2020, we’ll send her and her allies a powerful message: Our students deserve better.

In solidarity,

Lily Eskelsen García
National Education Association 

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